The position of the accountants in the past year has shifted sharply. The core work may remain the same, but as we know, the needs of clients and the compliance climate has changed dramatically.

Software is evolving, business models are changing, restrictions are in place and there are complex new government incentives and grants to unravel – alterations to the instant asset write off, reporting changes, JobKeeper and more.

COVID -19 support

As we know, COVID-19 changed everything. In 2021 the average accountant will be dealing with a raft of new tasks and changes that will diversify the advice they give and the work they do.

New tasks that have eventuated since the beginning of the pandemic:

  • Managing JobKeeper and JobMaker
  • Calculating the modified instant asset tax write off
  • Complex new tax breaks
  • Government grants
  • Increased working from home calculations
  • Changes to government reporting
  • New client business models

Remote working changes

This point is two pronged – not only will your clients be a lot more likely to have been working from home over the last year, so will you.

On one hand your clients will be needing a lot more focused advice in their tax returns, pertaining to the way they’ve been working. Calculating energy, internet usage, home office expenses and the like will become a lot more important and a lot more normal.

On the other hand, an accountant will now likely be working flexibly as well. This means new and improved ways of doing work and engaging clients.

Zoom meetings with clients, new workflow software, fresh modes of remote work and less face time with clients will necessitate a radical shift in the way an accountant works. Getting comfortable performing and communicating in home-based situations or during flexible work has become exceptionally important.

Client expectations continue to evolve

With the continuous march of accounting software and DIY accounting, the role played by an accountant in 2021 continues to morph in the direction of an advisor.

Expectations in the market have evolved and those clients who would previously seek a more simplified compliance service, now expect broader services.

With the events of 2020 in mind, there’s more need to be offering services around:

  • cashflow management
  • debt management
  • business model advice
  • cost saving measures
  • new business strategies
  • technology and software advice.

Software savviness

Software proficiency continues to become increasingly important in the accounting sector. The most obvious area where such prowess needs to be demonstrated is dealing with cloud accounting software, widely used by the client base.

Being able to perform basic troubleshooting, advice, and recommendations when it comes to accounting apps is vital in 2021. With a wide proliferation of various types and brands of software, the wider the exposure and expertise, the better.

Furthermore, software continues to redefine common workflows and daily management of an accountancy service. Understanding and being able to implement new software around workflow management, client communication, digitised documentation and IT security is extremely salient in 2021.

Relationships become central

With the decline in more traditional, purely transactional accounting services, fostering solid client relationships steps into the spotlight.

If you’re expanding your role and looking to add more value to your clients, 2021 will demand more focus on relationships. While this may seem a trifle difficult during a pandemic, becoming a valued and trusted financial and compliance advisor will help ensure your finger is on the pulse, your clients get value and you receive repeat and expanded business.

Data management is key

Similar to becoming software savvy, 2021 also demands better attention to data. Centralising your own data, your client’s data and making better use of it becomes more and more crucial.

Centralised CRMs, document management, cloud solutions and ease of data entry and access should be top of mind coming into this new year. There’s a strong focus on consolidating and reducing disparate systems of data collection and storage.

Not only will your own processes and visibility improve, you’ll find that your client data becomes a great asset in terms of understanding where services are required and how the market is shifting. It also helps you better understand individual clients so you can address their situation with clarity.